Enabling enterprise – promoting innovation

Social enterprises not only address many acute social problems, they are also becoming increasingly important economically. Yet external investory are often reluctant to commit unless business is already profitable. This is where Deutsche Bank can make a difference.


© iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

Many social start-ups face what can often seem to be insurmountable obstacles. Human and material resources are essential to the viability of these businesses. This is where Deutsche Bank can make a crucial contribution through the expertise of our staff, through our many years’ experience in the development of innovative impact investments and through our extensive global networks.

Firing up the start-up engine

Deutsche Bank has a longstanding tradition of developing initiatives to support small-scale entrepreneurs. In 1997, it became the first global bank to launch a microfinance fund. Since then, it has enabled 3.9 million microcredits in partnership with 130 microfinance institutions in 51 countries and is a committed thought leader that promotes ethical behaviour and consumer protection in the sector. Deutsche Bank has also created social venture funds to provide capital for projects that would otherwise have very little chance of attracting finance based on purely economic criteria or that require early stage capital injections that will only yield a return after several years. These impact investments are one crucial response to the social and environmental challenges we face today. In the United Kingdom, the Bank created the £10-million Impact Investment Fund in 2011, which enables social entrepreneurs to bridge the gap in their financing and in Germany, the Bank supports social start-ups through the “startsocial” business-plan competition and the Investment Readiness Initiative launched in 2013.

Employees help funding social enterprises

Since 2014, Deutsche Bank has also enabled its employees to become directly involved in the funding of social enterprises. In the United States, every employee has been given a $25 credit that they can loan to a small business borrower of their choice through Kiva.org. So far, 60% have embraced this opportunity. A similar programme in France generated an 80% uptake. To date, Deutsche Bank staff have loaned a total of $193,025 to borrowers in more than 70 countries worldwide. Currently, Deutsche Bank is supporting the launch of the Kiva Zip initiative in New York, which promotes neighbourhood businesses in the United States. In early July, the winning concept was announced: a project submitted by the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce that supports Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in New York City will receive a $25,000 grant from Deutsche Bank.

Creative entrepreneurship

The NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program is another initiative that supports newcomers to the United States. Since 2007, it has paired immigrant artists from a wide range of disciplines with NYFA fellows and alumni who help them acquire the skills and knowledge they need to make a living from their art. Selected works by project participants are currently on show in an exhibition entitled “Face to Place” at the 60 Wall Street Gallery.

Full-fledged commitment

In South Africa, Deutsche Bank launched a new alternative income generation programme, this year. In partnership with the not-for-profit business school TSiBA, it helps non-profit organisations in South Africa find new sources of funding. The aim is to provide NPOs with the skills they need to reduce their dependency on donations and secure their long-term economic viability. In addition, two Deutsche Bank employees from the New York offices will serve as coaches for the participating in South African non-profit organisations for a four-week period as part of the Bank’s Corporate Community Partnership programme. Since 2008, some 80 volunteers have assisted almost 30 non-profit organisations, micro finance institutions, social enterprises and academic institutions across Africa, Latin America and Asia. Not only do these volunteers provide valuable experience and new ideas, they receive plenty of both in return.

“In the past three years we have shown that social entrepreneurs can effectuate measurable and relevant social changes.”

Dr. Thomas Jetter Member of the Social Venture Fund (SVF)

“Social entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial thinking and action for the benefit of society and for the resolution or improvement of social ills [...] The success of social entrepreneurship is not evaluated solely according to financial profits but on the basis of social benefit.”

Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon Business Dictionary


Deutsche Bank employees invested about 62,500 hours as mentors, coaches or pro bono consultants for social projects and businesses in 2014

More than 70%

of all businesses worldwide are micro-sized enterprises.

Kiva - Yves Marie

Kiva Zip provided loans to Yves Marie to revitalize her Harlem Café
© Kiva Zip

“Kiva Zip is the best thing that’s happened to my business. From being at a point where I needed extra funds just to launch, I can now take on full-time employees.”

Jesse Brooklyn
Financial sustainability training with TSiBA Education NPC

Design Ventura – providing real world learning for students in the UK

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